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Connect the World

Ukrainian Forces Regaining Territory Around Kyiv; Odessa Braces as Russian Advances Stalled on Black Sea Coast; Ukraine Reports Heavy Shelling in Donbass Region; FIFA World Cup Draw less than an Hour Away; Russian Troops Leaving Chernobyl Nuclear Plant; Draw for FIFA World Cup Taking Place in Minutes. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 01, 2022 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, this hour Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its aggression continues. So we are bringing you

reporting from all over the country in the center around the Capital Kyiv in the strategic Southern City of Odessa and in the East, where civilians

are taking daunting journeys in a desperate attempt to find safety.

I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World". I want to start though with what could be a very big development a very

consequential development on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine, Russia claiming Ukrainian helicopters staged an attack inside Russian


This is video of what appears to be incoming fire on a fuel depot in Belgorod not far from that Ukrainian border Ukraine's Defense Ministry

neither confirming nor denying the attack. The Kremlin Spokesperson saying President Vladimir Putin has been informed and that the purported attack

could have a negative impact on what are Russia/Ukraine ceasefire talks, which have resumed virtually a few hours ago.

We'll have a lot more on this in a few moments. There appears to be no letup in Russian shelling across cities in Eastern Ukraine itself this

video showing Ukrainian army vehicles rolling through a town near Kharkiv and the destruction from Russian attacks.

Meantime CNN crews in Kyiv report more Russian strikes there today Ukraine's efforts to keep Russia's forces out of the capital have come at

great cost as Frederik Pleitgen discovered when he got a chance to see the bombed out suburb of Irpin have a look at this.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There is no safe way to get into Irpin the only feasible route is on the

back of a police special forces pickup truck on dirt paths. But even here the earth is scorched after Russian troops shelled the trail. Ukrainian

forces are taking us into this area on back roads because they say taking the main roads is simple much too dangerous.

They want to show us the damage done when Russian forces tried to enter Kyiv. Ukrainian authorities say this is still one of the most dangerous

places in this war torn country. And we immediately see why? We are driving right towards an area in - from artillery shelling.

This is where Russian forces tried to push into Ukraine's capital but were stopped and beaten back by the underdog Ukrainians. The battles here are

fierce. Authorities say 50 percent of the city has been destroyed. To us that number seems like an understatement.

PLEITGEN (on camera): We have to keep moving quickly because this place can get shelled anytime.

PLEITGEN (voice over): Ukraine's national police now patrol Irpin again, but their forces frequently come under fire the chief tells me. Just

yesterday our officers who were searching for dead bodies they were shot at with mortars he says. They had to lay under the bridge and wait for it to


But the grim task of finding and taking out the many dead continues more than two dozen on this day alone. Some have been laying in the streets for

weeks, and can only now be removed. When Russian forces invaded Ukraine, they quickly advanced on the Capital Kyiv all the way to Irpin.

Here the Ukrainian stood and fought back. Vladimir Putin's army controlled large parts of Irpin in the battle laid waste too much of this formerly

wealthy suburb. And this was the epicenter where we find burned out Russian trucks and armored vehicles.

PLEITGEN (on camera): So this is the area where some of the heaviest fighting took place in Irpin. And as you can see that there was a Russian

armored vehicle which was completely annihilated. We do have to be very careful around here because there still could be unexploded munitions

laying around.

We meet Volodymyr Rudenko (ph), a local resident who says he stayed and took up arms when the Russians invaded. Always there was not a single day

when I left town, he says even during the heaviest fighting. It must have been difficult I asked. Just so you understand he says once there were 348

impacts in one area in one single hour.


PLEITGEN (voice over): And the battle here is not over. Suddenly, Irpin's Mayer shows up with a group of Special Forces saying they're looking for

Russians possibly still hiding here. I asked him how it's going. We're working he says there's information that there are two Russian soldiers

dressed in civilian clothes with our group we're going to clean them up.

Ukrainian forces say they will continue the fight and further push Russian forces away from their capital. The Deputy Interior Minister saying they

need the U.S.'s support to succeed.

PLEITGEN (on camera): What do you need from the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything. Military supports first of all.

PLEITGEN (voice over): Weapons to help the Ukrainians expel the invading army they hope and finally bring this suburb out of the reach of Vladimir

Putin's cannons Fred Pleitgen, CNN Irpin Ukraine.


ANDERSON: Well, that is the reality on the ground, folks. Ukraine's President says the situation in the Donbass and the southern part of the

country remains and I quote him here, extremely difficult in this video posted to social media on Thursday, Mr. Zelenskyy, said Russian forces are

trying to figure out how to, "Coordinate their presence in those regions" where our Ed Lavandera is in Odessa.

That's a strategically important city on the southern coast. People they're watching what is happening both in the north and you know, around areas

that Fred has just reported from and indeed closer to home and the nearby cities.

People will be bracing Ed, for potential attacks there before we talk about what's going on where you are, I do just want to address what is or could

be a very consequential action. It's the strike on the fuel depot in Belgorod. That is to the on the Russian side of the border.

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense saying and I quote, I would like to emphasize that Ukraine is performing a defensive operation against Russian aggression

on the territory of Ukraine. That doesn't mean Ukraine has to be responsible for every miscalculation, or event or catastrophe that happened

or occurred on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Ed, what are you hearing about what happened on that Russian side of the border and the potential significance or consequence of that event?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the significance of this event is the very fact that for much of this invasion in this war in

Ukraine, we believed the Russian forces had the domination in the air in the skies.

So the if indeed, this was an attack that was carried out by Ukrainian Air Forces, and helicopter pilots flying into Russian territory to carry out

this attack on the fuel depot, it would be a striking change from what we've seen for more than a month in this invasion.

So, you know, psychologically, I think it's significant. And also strategically, you know, the Russians are saying that it won't have that

great of an impact on resupplying and refueling their forces. But, you know, we don't really know the extent of those problems.

But psychologically, I think it is incredibly significant, given the amount of force that Ukrainians have seen in the southeast part of this country

and what the people in that region have been through in the last month.

ANDERSON: Yes, to further that, quote, from Ukraine's Ministry of Defense on that event, this is not the first time we are witnessing such

accusations by the Russians. Therefore, I will neither confirm nor deny this information. It does beg the question why not of course?

You are in the south in Odessa, where the Ukrainian President says the situation remains extremely difficult and just explain what is going on in

the region, where you are, and what we know about Russian intention at this point?

LAVANDERA: Well, as you saw earlier in Frederick's reporting from Northern Ukraine and watching what the Russian forces are doing there in that

region? You know, the question is, where are those forces going to go? And we believe them to be moving into the eastern part and attack, perhaps re

attacking after they get refueled and resupplied.

And that would put the focus on the South in the South East part of Ukraine. And the significance of that is that until now, Russian forces

have been kind of kept at bay halfway between where I am in Odessa and Mariupol that city that has been so besieged for the last several weeks.


LAVANDERA: Ukrainian forces on the ground have been able to halt that move toward Odessa. This is a key port city on the Black Sea. Russian naval

ships are offshore here, you know. So there has been a great deal of focus and a great deal of thought that the Russia was very much interested in

taking and reaching all the way here to Odessa because that would essentially lock up the entire southern coast of this country and make

Ukraine a landlocked country.

So if those Russian forces in the north are able to regroup and come in through the east, what kind of pressure is that going to put on the

Ukrainian forces here in this region? And that's why people here are watching these developments in these movements so anxiously, Becky.

ANDERSON: Ed, it was a pleasure. Thank you, sir. Well, buses and cars carrying evacuees arriving in Zaporizhzhia now the Mariupol City Council

says some 2000 people who escaped that besieged city on Friday and are on their way to Zaporizhzhia.

Meanwhile the Red Cross heading in the opposite direction sending in much needed aid people to Mariupol. Officials attempting to open more evacuation

corridors like in the Russian held cities - hundreds of people have left in a convoy of buses and private vehicles heading again to Zaporizhzhia.

Officials say they will return with aid and pick up more people on their way back. Well, let's get you on the ground there. Ivan Watson is live at a

processing center in Zaporizhzhia. And you and I spoke an hour or so ago those buses hadn't arrived with evacuees desperately looking for safety at

that point. Are they there now? Are those people who've fled safe at this point? What do we know?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, they haven't arrived yet. So I think this underscores how complicated this is. Not only

do you have huge amounts of civilians trapped in a combat zone in a city under a Russian siege being pummeled by artillery, airstrikes, artillery

coming from warships.

But then when people try to escape, it is by no means an easy or quick process. So the convoy of 52 buses accompanied by many private cars, is

somewhere to the south of here in Russian occupied territory, and who knows when or if it will be allowed to arrive?

Instead, what you see are the signs of how smaller groups of people have escaped in their little cars with things like white rags attached to them

with signs that say - children here and their belongings packed into the back of a car.

This is something that we've seen; it kind of trickled to a stream of civilians fleeing the Russian occupied areas in the combat zones, day after

day trying to get here to Zaporizhzhia. Here's another car filled with belongings. Now can you imagine?

Enduring the shelling the loss of electricity of heat of running water of being in a city just being bombarded day after day after day, your home

potentially being destroyed as I've heard from a handful of people. Here's another one a handmade sign here that says - that says children.

And then packing up whatever's left into a car and trying to make a run for it. But before being able to escape, you have to go through multiple

checkpoints run by the Russian military, the same military that is blowing up and destroying your city and that may have destroyed your home. That is

something that all of these people who are escaping are enduring.

The Ukrainian government says more than 80,000 people have fled to Ukrainian controlled territory for Mariupol since the beginning of this

war. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced last night that there would be an evacuation humanitarian corridor at the request of the

leaders of France and Germany.

But here there are volunteers there are aid organizations that are police, there are doctors waiting for the arrival. It just hasn't happened yet


ANDERSON: Yes. For those who have arrived and you're laying out clearly just how complicated this evacuation process is, but for those who arrived

in those cars that you've just been walking paths, where have they gone?

WATSON: Well, if you go into this, we're in a parking lot outside a superstore here. It's quite a ways away the entrance. But people are

welcomed by volunteers with open arms. First, they have to go through a police screening, where the Ukrainian police in particular check the men's

documents, because there is a horrific war taking place.

And then they're welcomed in by volunteers. One woman from a church just gives a stuffed animal to every child that comes in there are many waiting

there are hot meals there are food there are volunteers standing by psychologists and advisors giving people information on how to move deeper

in into Ukrainian controlled territory.


WATSON: These city buses are to drive the new arrivals after they get some food in their stomach; they get to use a bathroom to drive them into the

city of Zaporizhzhia. So there's a remarkable effort on the behalf of the city government and volunteers to help their country men and women and

children whose livelihoods and homes have been destroyed over the course of the last month, Becky.

ANDERSON: Ivan and we'll get back to you as and when, hopefully you see those buses. As Ivan's describing, this is supposed to be an evacuation

corridor on those buses that get held up at Russian controlled checkpoints.

So you can only imagine what these people are going through, their city is besieged, they had a chance to escape. And now this journey is clearly not

as quick or efficient or as effective as, as the agencies and these people would hope.

But let's, let's cross our fingers that they are actually going to get there. Well, for more analysis on Russia's military tactics on the ground

now, I want to bring in Neil Melvin, the Director for International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. He joins me now

from Geneva.

It's good to have you with us. I mean, you just heard Ivan reporting there on just one of what his enormous, you know, challenge that the Ukrainians

face in moving people around in an area which is besieged by the Russians at present.

Let's start with what's going on here tactics sort of strategy. What do you make of this strike in Belgrade today that, of course, is on the Russian

side of the border? No comment from the Ukrainians. What do you believe happened there? And what do you believe the significance or consequences of

that strike might be?

NEIL MELVIN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, RUSI: Yes, well, thanks, great to be on the show. I mean, it's - I've been looking at the

open source intelligence. And it does look clearly as though it's two training helicopters that across the border and attacks, essentially a soft


It's a fuel facility, probably not enormously, militarily significant, although it may cramp the Russians ability to, to operate in some ways,

because they'd have been having problems with their fueling. But psychologically, of course, it's a big blow.

It's a big blow to Russia, because this is actually taking the fight onto Russian territory. The Russians have prided themselves on having very

strong air defense, and two helicopters were able to fly into their airspace and attack, apparently unimpeded.

It's not a long way from the Ukrainian border. It's just north of Kharkiv. So it means what a huge geographic operation. But also psychologically, for

the Ukrainians, I think I mean, this shows for the first time that they can hit back not just fighting on their own territory.

And you may recall, of course, during your other famous battles, such as the Blitz in London, the UK, order a counter strike on Berlin, which had

relatively little effect, but of course, psychologically begins to shift the balance in the war in these kind of war fighting scenes.

ANDERSON: Yes, the Ukrainian defense ministry, of course, we need to be very clear about this. They are neither confirming nor denying that this

was indeed Ukrainian assets striking that oil depot. OK, but you've provided us some analysis there from your perspective.

My colleague Richard Quest interviewed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier. Have a listen to what he told him.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The saying is that any military plan will not survive the first day of battle. And that was exactly what

happened with the Russian plan of taking Ukraine in a few days, because they partly underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian forces and

overestimated the strength of their own forces.

We should not over - you should not underestimate Russia because Russia is still the biggest land power in Europe. And we have also seen that

President Putin is willing to use force to achieve his objectives. And that is one of the important lessons to be learned from the invasion of Ukraine.


ANDERSON: The Russians have made it quite clear that it's the Donbass region that they are focusing on one of their generals over the weekend

said that phase, the first phase of this war is over and that assets will be moved towards the east.

Take that as you will. I mean, certainly the Ukrainians will say that they are beating a retreat, having been having faced a much, much stronger

Ukrainian defense and the Russians - than the Russians expected. What's your sense now of tactic by the Russians and whether ultimately it changes

their strategy long term?


MELVIN: Yes, what the Russians are calling the first phase, of course has turned into really a defeat in the battle of Kyiv, they've lost that

battle. It may turn out to be the first battle of Kyiv.

But anyway, they are pulling back as evidence today they're pulling back as far as the Belarusian border to north of Kyiv, or north of Sumy and the

Ukrainians are pushing back also around Kharkiv.

So there's clearly a change there, which is partly a result of Russian failure, but also very much Ukrainian success. But I think the Secretary

General is right. We shouldn't underestimate what may happen now the Russians will regroup; they'll try and become much better organized.

Because, I mean, certainly, the evidence on the first phase of the war is that they've been enormously disorganized, not even clear whether they had

a single theater commander for Ukraine or what they've had different, different ones operating in the south east and the north of the country.

So they will try and learn the lessons. And then the key thing here is that what they're trying to do now is frame politically a version of victory. I

think that President Putin can sell to the Russian population and internationally.

And that looks increasingly like expanding their control of East Ukraine pushing out from the Donbass area, certainly taking the whole of the

territories of Luhansk and Donetsk oboists these two regions inside Ukraine, building the land corridor along the Azov Sea to Mariupol.

And then at that point, I think trying to destroy as much of Ukrainian military as they can most of the best units of Ukrainian army are still

opposite the Donbass there's a risk of them being encircled.

And then lastly, try and destroy as much as possible of Ukraine's military industrial architecture. Many of the defense industry factories are in

places like Zaporizhzhia, as your report has just been reporting from.

And then at that point, you know, president I think will try and make the case that is a victory. And we're looking maybe even around trying to do

that for May, the seventh which is in Russia calls Victory in Europe, day from World War II, the defeat of fascism on the side has been framed as

that kind of struggle.

ANDERSON: Thank you sir. Your analysis is extremely important. We continue our coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine as this assault grinds on, thank

you. We'll head on "Connect the World" the safety and security of the nuclear power plants there has been under threatened this war.

I'll speak to the Head of the IAEA about what is being done to secure these risky sites. And the Kremlin does learn about phase about what how it wants

to be paid for Russian energy at least for now that its details on that are up next.


ANDERSON: Russian natural gas is still flowing in Europe today in significant volume. It has to be said the Kremlin says it won't cut off

supplies to what it calls unfriendly countries at least for now, despite a new demand for payment to be in rubles.


ANDERSON: Well, the EU tells CNN the new decree is Moscow's attempted its words to circumvent European sanctions and blackmail the European Union,

while the UK Germany and France just aren't having it.

CNN's Anna Stewart joins me now live from London. And we would prefer to be paid in rubles is the latest line from the Kremlin. The Europeans aren't

having any of it. So how does this change the calculus, the situation for Europe, which is so heavily dependent on European gas still at this point?

Where are we at?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, when we first had the news that President Putin was going to decree that all foreign buyers from what he deems

unfriendly countries would have to pay for gas in rubles, it caused quite a stir that would have been a breach of contract.

And many EU nations were simply saying we will not do that we will not be blackmailed by Russia. The decree was implemented today. But you know what,

Becky, no change Russian gas is still flowing from Russia to Europe, contracts, as far as we know, remain completely unchanged.

Few reasons for that, firstly, it'll take 10 days for Gazprombank, the only entity really to make any changes here at all, to have to do that. And also

any payments made today for gases actually, for deliveries that come in weeks to come.

Now, we've got to get into the boring, technical, nitty gritty detail of this decree, because it's certainly not as simple as just telling Western

countries they have to pay for gas and rubles.

In fact, what's happening here is they can still use their accounts like Gazprombank, the Russian bank that was not sanctioned for the very reason

that it is used to pay for Russian gas and Russian oil as well.

Now, what's going to happen is Gazprombank has to simply set up a ruble account for all of these western customers. And they will trade the Euros

and the dollars, whatever the contract currency is, into rubles probably have to pay a transaction fee for that and pay Gazprom.

So really, we're looking at a bit of a - because President Putin will say, yes, Gazprom is going to be only receiving rubles for gas and the West can

continue to buy it in Euros or dollars.

ANDERSON: Anna Stewart is on the story; keep an eye on this one for you. I don't think it's I don't think it's going away. Thank you. Early on, my

colleague, Richard Quest, interviewed the Belgian Prime Minister. Here's what Alexander De Croo had to say about Russia's Vladimir Putin demanding

payment this way, take a listen.


ALEXANDER DE CROO, BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER: I think first of all, this shows that the economic sanctions do work, because it shows that the treasurer

really is in trouble. And especially on the ruble currency, they're really in difficulties; our position is that you cannot just change the terms of


So we'll just stick to the position we had and the contracts we have. In any case, on the Belgian side, we're not very much exposed to that less

than 5 percent of our consumption is coming from Russia. But let's see if Russia really pushes through. But European position is a correct one, we

won't be blackmailed.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: If he does switch off the gas, even for your 5 percent that you could find a fracturing of

the unity that we've seen as those countries like Germany, and others who do require greater amounts start to get a bit iffy.

CROO: Well, we've been working hard over the last weeks to make sure we're prepared for events like this one. A lot of reserves have been constituted

a lot of solidarity has been built on how do we cope with an interruption, like, like that one, so we are prepared. I honestly think if Mr. Putin does

that, yes, we will be impacted, but the impact will be multitudes greater on his side.


ANDERSON: And you can see that full interview on Quest Means Business with Richard, live from Brussels coming up tonight at nine Brussels time. That's

11 p.m. if you're watching here in the UAE.

Well, these are nail-biting times for football fans. We're going to soon learn which teams will be going up against each other in this year's World

Cup. Yes, we are live in Qatar ahead of the Men's World Cup draw for Qatar 2022. And how do the players feel like in moments like this. Well, I asked

two former legends of the game you know all about competing on the international stage coming up later this hour.



ANDERSON: Well, excitement is now building for the 2022 Football World Cup draw happening next hour at the Doha Exhibition Center in Qatar. Eight

groups will be chosen in today's drawing which will determine the matchups in the group stage for the first ever Winter edition of the FIFA Men's

World Cup in Qatar, which kicks off in November.

Well, so far 29 participants are confirmed for the World Cup. Three teams yet to be determined and Ukraine is among them. But the team's coaches cast

doubts that they will be able to participate in their upcoming playoff match due to the war there. Amanda Davies has more on the teams in the


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORT: As hosts Qatar prepare for their debut at a World Cup finals they're guaranteed a place in group A and find themselves

alongside some of the biggest names in the game in part one, doesn't get much bigger than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and their respective

sides Portugal and Argentina as well as defending champions France, Belgium, England, Brazil, and Spain.

European Champions Italy is missing after failing to qualify for the Second World Cup in a row. But the Netherlands are back and aside that many will

be looking to avoid from part two alongside Germany the 2014 champions very much looking to make amends for that disastrous defense of their title in


The 2018 runners up Croatia are also in this part alongside Denmark buoyed by the return of Christian ethics. The U.S. was back in this part two

alongside their Co-host for the next World Cup Mexico and the talent taps squad of Uruguay.

Sadio Mane and Africa Cup of Nations champion Senegal lead the way in part three, but he's not the only superstar striker in this one. There's Robert

Lewandowski in Poland, - in South Korea alongside Iran, Japan, Serbia, Morocco, and Tunisia.

Part four is where things get complicated with unusually three teams yet to be decided. But they will still be in the draw alongside Ecuador, Saudi

Arabia, Garner, Cameroon and the Canadian side on the crest of a wave having qualified for their first World Cup finals since 1986.

ANDERSON: Let's get more from Amanda who's live from Doha ahead of that draw. I can only imagine what the players for the host nation are feeling

ahead of this. Look, I mean, nobody wants to be drawn against one of the giants in the game. But in a way Qatar might as well get out there and play

you know one of these enormous teams because they want this, they want this tournament to get off to a good start, don't they?


DAVIES: Yes, absolutely and as you know, Becky, there is such a feeling. This has been a long, long build up for the host, hasn't it, since that day

back in December 2010, when this tournament was awarded to them.

And what a moment, November the 21st will be for Qatar. Their first ever World Cup finals playing at home with the eyes of the world watching. And

they are an unknown quantity to so many of the teams around the world because all of their squad plays their football here domestically.

In the Qatar stars League, I got a chance to speak to Santi Cazorla, a couple of days ago, a former arsenal at Spain international who plays here

at Al Sadd. He said he's been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the players and they did surprise a few people when they won the Asian Cup in


They've reached the semifinals of the Gold Cup and the Arab Cup here in November, as well. And I think what you say Qatar playing the big teams and

the superstars is what this tournament will need for the locals to get excited about their team.

I went to see them play on Tuesday night against Slovenia. I have to say there was less than kind of a couple of thousand fans there. It was a very,

very strange atmosphere for a World Cup host nation just a few months out from hosting this tournament. But everybody said you know there is a real

love and passion for football here in Qatar, but it's about the big stars on show and that's what people can't wait to see.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Amanda. Amanda is in Doha. Coming up on this show, Clarence Seedorf and Michel Salgado two legends of the game

sit down with me to talk about that draw and why they believe hosting the tournament in the tiny Gulf kingdom of Qatar is good for the game.

Also coming up on "Connect the World" Russian troops has left the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, but what condition did they leave it in? --RC Head of

the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog about that and his recent trip to Ukraine, that is coming up.


ANDERSON: It is one of the greatest fears of this war in Ukraine, the risk to the nuclear power plants that operate in the country. In the first week

of the war the Chernobyl nuclear plant site of the world's worst nuclear disaster fell into the hands of Russian troops.

But now Ukrainian officials say the Russians have packed up and left. The Plant's Director says it is impossible to determine how much radiation the

Russian troops were exposed to during their activities in the areas around Chernobyl.


ANDERSON: Well, today Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, announcing he will head to Chernobyl on

a mission as soon as possible. Rafael Grossi joins me now live from Vienna; it's good to have you on. So you have just returned from Ukraine, in fact.

What condition are the country's nuclear power plants in?

RAFAEL GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY: Well, the situation we are living is completely is unprecedented. Because the

power plants, the reactors are operating as if we were in peacetime only that we are not in peacetime.

And this, of course, creates number of question marks and situations that require attention. As you were saying, I've just returned barely an hour

ago, returned from Ukraine, where I have been talking to my Ukrainian counterparts, on the activities that we buy.

I mean, the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency is going to be performing as of next week, hopefully, to assist Ukraine in preserving the

safety of their installations, including Chernobyl. Personally, I was at the closest nuclear reactors to the war zone in the south of the country.

And there, the operations continue in a satisfactory way. But of course, there is a lot of uncertainty that you can imagine.

ANDERSON: And you remain extremely concerned that this infrastructure could become a target during this war, correct. You and I spoke a couple of weeks

ago, and you expressed significant concern at that point.

GROSSI: Of course, I think that the preserving the physical integrity of a nuclear power plant is of the essence. I think that the deployment of the

IEA the presence of the IEA, the intensity of our work and our attention on this is helpful in averting such a scenario, which is the worst that you

could have, you're describing an attack on a nuclear reactor, which is, I think, not a very probable scenario.

But there are other issues that we have, we have been looking at and must be looking at namely the possibility of a nuclear accident, which is

something different.

ANDERSON: Sure. Let me just let me just put this question to you. Are you in touch with Russian authorities? And is there any evidence that Russia in

its strikes in Ukraine will ensure that it doesn't target nuclear facilities? Do you have any confidence that that is the case?

GROSSI: Well, there are many questions to your question. Of course, I am in touch with them; I must be, otherwise, there's no efficiency or

effectiveness in whatever I do. So, in fact, on my way back to Vienna, I stopped in Kaliningrad, which is in Russia.

And then in Kaliningrad, I had meetings with the Russian side, to also discuss about these things. Any attack to a nuclear facility is against

international law. I think everybody including Russia, is very clear about it.

And trust or not or not trust is something that is of course, very subjective. What I can tell you is that we will continue working no matter

what; we are going to be putting everything possible to prevent that occurrence.

ANDERSON: Right. Let me be quite clear. Do you trust that Russian authorities that Vladimir Putin, his military will avoid targeting nuclear

facilities? Do you trust them?

GROSSI: Nuclear facilities have not been targeted. We had an event, which was quite concerning, when, within the sight of a nuclear power plant in

Zaporizhzhia, there was an exchange of fire was probably shelling not directed at the reactor but involving an administrative building nearby.

So I cannot conceive I could not imagine that a nuclear reactor would be targeted. The Russian government has affirmed this. And I hope that this

will be the case.


ANDERSON: You will be leading a mission to Chernobyl. I want to know what you believe the current condition of that plant is at present. And what is

your understanding of the radiation levels that Russian troops might have been exposed to.

Recently, action over we've heard reports that some are getting treatment in Belarus after withdrawing having been exposed. Just explain what detail

you have at this point, please.

GROSSI: Not much, to be honest. I am also aware of the same press reports. Of course, we have been contacting the Russian counterparts to see whether

they have any further information to share with that with us about that. In general terms, I would say that when the radiation levels around the

Chernobyl site are low.

At the beginning, when the Russian forces when the Russian troops occupied the site, because of the movement of heavy armored vehicles approaching the

site, some areas, the moving of the ground, released some radiation there.

And there was a slight increase in the levels. It is probable that the same thing happened when the same vehicles or similar ones were on the way out

that there was dust in the air that contains some radiation that was lying on the ground. This cannot be excluded. But we don't have any concrete

information apart from this unconfirmed press reports, right?

ANDERSON: Right. And those press reports citing Ukrainian officials reporting this, thank you sir.

GROSSI: Exactly.

ANDERSON: We'll speak to you again. I know that you're leading a mission into Chernobyl. Please join us again and let us know what you find and what

sort of support you are getting from Russia as you continue to try and ensure that these plants are safe. Thank you.

Well, this just into CNN Turkey's president says he is pushing for a face to face meeting between his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts. A statement

from Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he brought up the meeting in his phone call today with Vladimir Putin.

The statement also describes recent direct talks between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul is "positive and constructive". We're taking a very short

break, folks back after this.


ANDERSON: Well, World Cup fever is really beginning to kick in now. We are minutes away from the Draw, which will decide who football's best players

will be up against in Qatar this November and December earlier this week I caught up with two legends of the game that both now live here in the UAE

Michel Salgado and Clarence Seedorf were giants of European football for nearly two decades.

They both played for a time at Spanish club, Real Madrid winning everything before them. Salgado for Spain played at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and

Seedorf for Holland of course at the 1998 edition in France.


ANDERSON: I really couldn't have asked for two more experienced analysts ahead of the draw, have a listen.


ANDERSON: You know what it feels like both of you to play in that tournament, what are players going through at present, as they anticipate

this draw those who are pretty confident they're going to make the squad and are looking to see who they will be playing with?

CLARENCE SEEDORF, DUTCH FORMER FOOTBALLER: Well, it's an important moment for the, for the Federation's and the coaches. I have to say, when I was a

player, I was not really paying attention so much to because you wanted to - yes, to the draw.

Especially when you're part of the most important teams you always believe you can reach, you know the semifinals and the final. So you need to be

able to beat everybody. But it's a big moment.

And, and I think that at this point, especially with everything that has been happening towards this World Cup, there are many people having great

expectations for what's going to happen.

MICHEL SALGADO, SPANISH FORMER FOOTBALLER: Well, there are two things with the draw as a play for sure, I do agree with Clarence. You know, I think

it's more it's more for the technical staff and for the federation more than they play is because you are just focusing in the real - then I am

still playing, you know, for the league.

Some of the clubs, they still; they're still playing for Champions League for everything, and other players are involved is still in the qualifying

as well. So I think it's a moment that you are quite relaxed. Yes, the draw is important because you want to - a good draw. But in the end --

SEEDORF: It's more interesting for us now.

SALGADO: Yes. For the people working on TV and everything and analyzing who's going to win.

SEEDORF: --care too much.

ANDERSON: Let's just do a little bit of analysis.

SALGADO: Yes, OK. Let's do.

ANDERSON: No, Italy this year, going to be missed.

SALGADO: Oh, it was a shock.

SEEDORF: That is pretty incredible second time ago.

SALGADO: Yes, it's back to - it's pretty shocking.

SEEDORF: Historic.

SALGADO: Is Northern Italy in the World Cup, I think it's shocking for everybody. No, of course we are not, we are not supporting Italy. But you

need to have or you want to have the best, you know teams in the world in that world cup.

SEEDORF: I do support Italy. I mean, I've been there for 18 years.

ANDERSON: So you - fancy.

SEEDORF: No, I mean, I think that that's a good team. Starting from home, but then you have obviously the South Americans, Argentina, Brazil, the

French team again, well, Spain house - because I haven't seen much of --

SALGADO: Is that young team, so they can play an amazing football. But in the end, you know, the experience is so much. If you analyze the World Cup

is pretty, you know, unpredictable right now.


SALGADO: For me, France is the team that if they are able to perform, they're the perfect mix between you know, in terms of experience and young

players, they have - right now making the big change in football, you know. They have a greater squad with--

SEEDORF: A lot of fire power from --

SALGADO: And to be honest and they won the World Cup. They know they know how to do it. So I think they will be you know, they are the favorites for

me, but it's pretty unpredictable. And we are always thinking for a surprise like value, value is --

ANDERSON: Every time you're saying could be Belgium, this time around.

SALGADO: Every time they're saying -

SEEDORF: I think they missed the mentality. Yes, and don't forget Portugal because Portugal has a very talented team as well, plus Cristiano still


ANDERSON: What do you think it means for the game football? We've got this World Cup in region in the Muslim world for the first time.

SEEDORF: Yes, well, I converted to Muslim not so long ago. So I believe this is a huge momentum for the region to come together actually and to

celebrate the biggest sport in the world.

I know that many people have a lot of opinions about the region. But you need to live it and also if you want to make a contribution come here and

make a contribution.

You know it's very easy from the outside to make a lot of statements about something that you really don't know. But I think it's a great opportunity

and football has made a positive impact afterward went.

SALGADO: Yes it's you know living in the Middle East and living in the region, I think is very fair. You know for all the funds in this part of

the world that they can enjoy something as big as the World Cup.

You know, we enjoy it so many times you know, in South America where football is really a religion. But in - we don't realize when you are in

need of that - in this part of the world, the fans are crazy about it.

They don't asleep to watch all the teams, all the games. And to be honest it's something they did you know, I'm really happy with the first World Cup

in the world, and I'm going to enjoy it so much.


ANDERSON: And I'm sure that everybody is hoping that when Ukraine gets to play their World Cup, playoff no fixed date as this war grinds on that they

will be successful. Well, thank you for joining us. Wherever you are watching and Happy Ramadan to all of the Muslims out there celebrating, it

is a very good evening, from Abu Dhabi, from my team here in Abu Dhabi in the UAE, good night.



ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Eleni Giokos live in Dubai and we begin with what appears to be a daring and bold attack inside southern

Russia. The Kremlin warns airstrikes on a fuel depot in Belgorod.

Russia could lead to an escalation of the war and may have an impact on virtual negotiations taking place today. But Ukraine's defense ministry is

refusing to comment on claims. Ukrainian helicopters carried out the attack and suggest that Russian miscalculation while that might be to blame for

the strike on its own territory. Shelling meanwhile is intensifying -